Head of Research: Catherine Brégianni, Research Director, Αcademy of Athens/ Modern Greek History Research Centre 

Summary: Analysis of the Great Depression as a Τransition from the Τransnational to the Regional 

To establish the main working hypothesis, the project includes the study of the previous liberal market  organisation and the attempted monetary integration in the 1920s; a process during which the interwar crisis caused a rupture. The micro-analytical processing of the 1930s crisis, incorporates the parameters of the national economy, which also accounted for the internal crisis, as the case study of the Greek experience (population movement, military expenditures in the 1910s and early 1920s). The limited chronological horizon of the project allows for the geographical broadening of the subject matter, but mainly enables the use of multiple methodological tools. 

The main Goals, Objectives, and Challenges of the Project 

The pivotal axis of this project is the international crisis of the 1930s and the interpretation of the alternative strategies promoted for its handling. In order to integrate a semiotic and conceptual level of analysis in this perception of the interwar crisis, the research will also elucidate the interpretation of the crisis regarding social groups. 

The 1929 Great Depression is fundamental to studying the interwar period in a socioeconomic context, as it diversified the perception of the State and market functioning amid European societies. In general, by including the cultural studies point of view, the interwar period is  considered as a laboratory of modernity and the proposed project intends to explore this dimension via the economic facet. The monetary factor is mainly a crisis indicator: money describes rather than provokes the crisis, and it is then a crisis symptom and not its cause. But, secondarily, monetary policies and regulations of monetary standards on an international level during the interwar period reflect differentiation in the evolution of the market, and alteration caused by the crisis mechanism. A critical challenge of the project is then to determine -via qualitative and quantitative analysis- the passage from economic liberalism, (generalised in the 1920s and aims to tackle the financial effects of WWI), to economic protectionism and the growth of the State’s economic role. 

The approach of the research intends to delineate the multiple narratives of the crisis. Firstly, the political narrative, through the examination of national case studies, and secondly, the technocratic narrative, from the perspective of international economic institutions that intervene  to establish a new monetary and financial order, which converge with a different narrative: the visual representation of social phenomena caused by the interwar crisis. Our aim is to showcase the new narratives of an economic phenomenon of social ramifications, and therefore, using visual semiotics and archival material, to undermine a narrative that exclusively comes from above.

To conclude, the project aims to eschew a one-sided interpretation of the interwar crisis and to present the alternative paradigms, both on the economic-political level and on the social terrain, aiming to explore the highly interactive and coherent research axes.

• Due to the transversal character of the research, the evaluation of the political discourse of the various elites as actors of the conjuncture and the emergence of international institutions as fora, where the different models of anti-crisis politics intersect are the main research points. So far, these converge with the objective parameters of the conjuncture, in which the monetary factor plays a crucial role. The introduction of “objective” quantitative  indicators into a theoretical, or political narrative of the interwar period leads to the appraisal of the phenomena under examination, namely the emergence of the transition from the economic liberalism of the 1920s (James, 1986, among others), to the centralised policies of the 1930s, and to the introversion of the state economies. In addition, the introduction of the geographical dimension to the subject is expected to determine the axis of space from the perspective of geo-history. In this particular project, the geographical factor seeks to highlight the imbalance and asymmetry in relation to the growth brought by the market structure and always with regard to the economic policies applied. This specific perception expands the perspectives adopted regarding governmentality and its territorial dimension. 

• Especially with regard to the study of the Greek case, the interwar economic crisis is analysed from the point of view of the financial variables, in correspondence with the monetary fluctuation. The study of the Greek paradigm is examined within its European context: even though the economic aspects of the Greek interwar period have been explored, national historical production has focused on the study of the inner sphere,  highlighting mainly the role of the national political actors. This research attempts to extend this perspective, and integrate the transnational features of the economic policies pursued in Greece during the interwar period.

• The intersection of financial parameters - in quantitative terms - with monetary circulation and with GDP per capita, works to this end while, at the same time, is a crucial parameter for the evaluation of interwar statistical data. Moreover, focusing on the exchange rate floating (since the stabilization of the drachma (1928) was withdrawn in 1932 and the national currency entered a floating exchange rate period) will allow the assessment of public investment in the 1930s, and  the real capital investment in agriculture; the latter was supposed to be a central axis of the central economic policy in the 1930s. Furthermore, an innovative element of the project is the creation of data series on the payment of the public debt in gold after the 1932 default, and the quantitative mapping of the negotiations of the Greek State with its creditors in the same period. Finally, visual representations of the crisis constitute a new axis that can relate the historical subject's point of view, and past experiences to expectations for the future. 

In particular, the above are explored in relation to specific research axes, starting from a global perception and concluding with the case studies. A listing of these axes, in relation to the state of current research is as follows:

Transnational Monetary Integration in Interwar Europe and the Turning Point of the Great Depression 

• Geo-Historical Differentiations in the Analysis of the Interwar Crisis 

• South-eastern Europe in the Context of the Interwar Crisis 

• A Micro-Analytical Approach to the Greek Interwar Crisis 

• Monetary Fluctuation and National Accounts. 

• Visual Representations of the Greek Interwar Crisis 

From the point of view of Greek Economic History, the research aspires to be innovative as it integrates and analyses local economic phenomena within the framework of transnational or global economic policies: it contextualises Greek Studies in general within a global framework, taking into  consideration that a considerable part of the examined national phenomena is parallel to the European ones (for instance the Greek interwar dictatorship, or the refugee’s settlement during the 1920s). Beyond analysing economic actors on a local (i.e., national) level, the project also integrates their impact within the general context.



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